Saturday, July 10, 2010

In case you wondered – Study shows lobbyists sponsor 39 percent of Calif bills

When you think of lobbyists you generally think of their influence in Washington D.C. There’s thousands of lobbyists who, like locusts, descend upon both houses throughout the year.

We must not forget about the lobbyists at the state level who burrow into the political scene statewide, and exert an undue amount of influence on what bills get passed or rejected every year. How bad is it you ask?

Outside interests sponsored 39 percent of the bills introduced during a recent two-year session of the California Legislature, according to a published report today.


Spy swap mystery: The one that got away

Image: Christopher Robert Metsos

I’m really disappointed at this whole spy story. We’re never going to know what those 10 Russians were spying on. How bogus is that?

There was so much potential, and then the U.S. and Russia suddenly made the biggest spy swap since the Cold War and in record time too!

But the story doesn’t have to end here. You can channel your inner Ian Fleming and come up with a much more interesting story line. See Sunday’s AS IT STANDS for more thoughts on spy stories.

Man vanished from Cyprus after being released on bail

The United States and Russia swapped 14 spies with precision, but one piece of the puzzle remains: The alleged spy who disappeared after posting bail in Cyprus.

Did he flee on his own? Get away with help from the Russians? Trick local residents into unwittingly aiding an escape? Meet some other fate

The spy suspect (shown here) who called himself Christopher Metsos vanished after handing over a Canadian passport that claimed he was 54 and got released on bail.

Iconic church brings New Mexico village together

 In Ranchos de Taos, preserving a church has become a rewarding rite of summer.

In the center of this northern New Mexico village stands a sun-baked adobe church made famous by the paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe and the photographs of Ansel Adams and Paul Strand.

But if it weren't for an annual ritual that has been kept alive for nearly two centuries by the close-knit community of Ranchos de Taos, it's likely the iconic church wouldn't be standing at all.

Hundreds of parishioners gathered over two weeks under the summer sun to plaster the thick walls of the San Francisco de Asis Church with a fresh coat of mud, from the massive buttresses at the back of the fortress-like church to the courtyard walls and the tops of the bell towers.

Obama: More post-traumatic stress help for vets

Eric Shinseki

The government is taking what President Barack Obama calls "a long overdue step" to aid veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, making it easier for them receive federal benefits.

The changes that Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will announce Monday fulfill "a solemn responsibility to provide our veterans and wounded warriors with the care and benefits they've earned when they come home," Obama said in his weekly radio and online address Saturday.

Photo:In this April 9, 2010, file photo Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki speaks at the Togus Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta. Shinseki will announce the changes Monday, July 11. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Greetings from the Gulf Coast – oil up and have fun!


Mike Lester, Rome News Tribune /

Today’s thought: You should be careful what you wish for


A man walks into a restaurant with a full-grown ostrich behind him.

The waitress asks them for their orders.

The man says, "A hamburger, fries and a coke," and turns to the ostrich, "What's yours?"

"I'll have the same," says the ostrich.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order. "That will be $9.40 please." The man reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact change for payment.

The next day, the man and the ostrich come again and the man says, "A hamburger, fries and a coke.."

The ostrich says, "I'll have the same.."

Again the man reaches into his pocket and pays with exact change.This becomes routine until the two enter again. "The usual?" asked the waitress.

"No, this is Friday night, so I will have a steak, baked potato and a salad," says the man. "Same," says the ostrich. Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, "That will be $32.62."

Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and places it on the table. The waitress cannot hold back her curiosity any longer. "Excuse me,sir. How do you manage to always come up with the exact change in your pocket every time?"

"Well," says the man, "several years ago I was cleaning the attic and found an old lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything, I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money would always be there.."

"That's brilliant!" says the waitress.. "Most people would ask for a million dollars or something, but you'll always be as rich as you want for as long as you live!" "That's right. Whether it's a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact money is always there," says the man

The waitress asks, "What's with the ostrich?"

The man sighs, pauses and answers, "My second wish was for a tall chick

with a big butt and long legs who agrees with everything I say.."

Friday, July 9, 2010

DEA Flouts Mendocino Medical Marijuana Ordinance by Raiding First Grow Permit Applicant

COVELO, Cal, Jul 7th 2010:   The DEA  flouted Mendocino County's newly enacted medical marijuana cultivation ordinance by raiding the first collective that had applied to the sheriff's cultivation permit program.
  A multi-agency federal task force descended  on the property of Joy Greenfield, 68, the first Mendo patient to pay the $1050 application fee under the ordinance, which  allows collectives to grow up to 99 plants provided they comply with  certain regulations. Ms Greenfield  had  applied  in the name of her collective, "Light the Way," which opened in San Diego earlier this year.  Her property had  passed  a preliminary inspection by Mendo sheriff's deputies shortly before the raid, and  she had bought the sheriff's "zip-ties" intended to designate her plants as legal. In the days before the raid, Ms Greenfield  had seen a helicopter hovering over her property;  she inquired with the sheriff, who told her  the copter belonged to DEA and wasn't under his control.
  The agents invaded her property with guns drawn, tore out the collective's 99 plants and took Ms Greenfield's  computer and cash. Ms Greenfield was not at home during the raid, but spoke on the phone to the DEA agent in charge.  When she told  him that she was a legal grower under the sheriff's program, the agent replied  "I don't care what the sheriff says."
  When she returned to her house  she found it in disarray with soda cans strewn on the floor. "It was just a mess," she said, "No one should be able to tear your house apart like that." Ms. Greenfield  called the raid a "slap in the face of Mendocino's government."
   The DEA has been tight-lipped about the raid, but claims it was part of a larger investigation involving other suspects."Here Mendo is trying to step out in front by passing this ordinance, and what do the feds do but raid the first applicant," commented Ms Greenfield's attorney, Bob Boyd of Ukiah. " The DEA is stepping all over local authorities trying to tax and regulate."
    Neither Boyd nor other locals believe that the sheriff tipped off the DEA or gave them  any information about permit applicants. Sheriff Allman has been highly supportive of efforts to bring local growers into the permit program.  Nonetheless, observers fear that
the raid will have a chilling effect.
   "This raid is clear evidence that the DEA is out of control,"
said California NORML director Dale Gieringer.  "A change in federal law is long overdue. In the meantime, the DEA needs a new director who will enforce Attorney General Holder's pledge not to interfere in state medical marijuana laws." The agency is currently directed by Michele Leonhart, a Bush holdover who has presided over numerous medical marijuana raids and has obstructed  research efforts to develop marijuana for medicine. Obama has denominated her to head the agency -  a move strongly opposed by drug reformers, who are calling on the administration to honor its pledge of change.

Dale Gieringer -
California NORML, NEW ADDRESS:  2261 Market St. #278A, San Francisco
CA 94114 -(415) 563- 5858 -


In response to this post:

Hide your granny, another hardened criminal off the streets

You Should Know Why Snakebites Are About to Get a Lot More Deadly

(Photo by Gerold & Cynthia Merker/Getty Images)

The cure for bites from North American coral snakes is about to disappear.

Find out why an unprofitable antivenom may end up costing lives.

If you live in Alabama, Arizona,Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, or Texas, you should know that unfortunately, after Oct. 31 of this year, there may be no commercially available antivenom (antivenin) left. That's the expiration date on existing vials of Micrurus fulvius, the only antivenom approved by the Food and Drug Administration for coral snake bites. Produced by Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, the antivenom was approved for sale in 1967, in a time of less stringent regulation.


U.S., Russia exchange spies in biggest spy swap since the Cold War

Planes land in U.K. and Moscow after Cold War-style airport handover

Just when it looked like this recent spy story was going to be an ongoing saga the Russian and American governments put a lid on it.

After the swiftest swap in spy vs spy history between the two countries, the story comes to an inclusive ending. What were those Russian spies reporting on to their Moscow handlers?

We just barely got to know what happened. Spies in suburbia sure sounded like a good outline for a James Bond movie.

As a matter of fact, As It Stands this Sunday in The Times-Standard, will be about channeling your inner Ian Fleming and coming up with a better ending to this tale!

Paul the Octopus is Germany’s answer to Pennslvania’s Punxsutawney Phil

Image: Octopus Paul opens a box decorated with the Spanish flag.‘It looks like a clear-cut victory for Spain,’ spokeswoman says

An octopus named Paul opens a box decorated with a Spanish flag and a shell inside on Friday at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany.

View related photos

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I was traveling around today with a buddy who had a camera



It was beautiful along Highway 36 today.

My friend Carl Young and I were in the Dinsmore area and he started snapping away with his fancy camera.

This is my favorite photo from the bunch he took. I might have to start posting his stuff on a regular basis. What do you think?


Judge: Federal gay marriage ban unconstitutional

Lawsuit deals with ban on pension, other benefits for same-sex couples

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, a 1996 law that the Obama administration has argued for repealing. The rulings apply to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they're upheld on appeal, but it was not clear if the Obama administration would appeal.

Are you kidding me? Palin to replace Steel? From the gaffe king to the gaffe queen

How desperate is the Republican Party? Let’s put it this way - if GOP members pick Palin to head their party they’re panicked to the point of denying reality. Palin is a cartoon for extreme Conservatives, a comedian’s delight, and possibly the dumbest Republican star to emerge since George Bush. Look at her track record. She couldn’t even finish her term as Alaska’s Governor because she was getting into trouble with staff and letting her husband run things behind the scenes. The seat was becoming too hot and her handlers advised her to vacate before she ended up losing the job. But she figured out that the real money (forget a governor’s small salary) could be made flapping her guns from coast-to-coast to crazed Conservatives who thrive on rhetoric.   

When McCain pulled her out of obscurity, he created a monster. She found out that there were bigger fish to fry than what the political waters in Alaska offered. She let the world know that she could almost see Russia from her back door, and created that much repeated chant, “Drill baby Drill.” Now she gets a reported $100,000 per speaking engagements where she can continue to share her special views on the Constitution, her love for the NRA and hunting wolves from helicopters. All great grist for the GOP agenda.

The only positive thing I see coming out of Palin heading the GOP Party is it ought to drive any sane Republicans (if any are left) into becoming Independents and giving them a much needed lift to be  a  real player in politics.   

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Banks beg lawmakers not to throw them in the briar patch – just like that clever Briar Rabbit in the children’s story

R.J. Matson, The St. Louis Post Dispatch /

Swipe, smile, blow: Pa. has wine vending machines

Some question machines' efficacy in preventing sales to minors

Pennsylvania, which has some of the most Byzantine liquor laws in the U.S., recently introduced the country's first wine "kiosks."

Keith Wallace, president and founder of The Wine School of Philadelphia, described the kiosks as well-intentioned failures with limited selections and overtones of Big Brother.

"The process is cumbersome and assumes the worst in Pennsylvania's wine consumers — that we are a bunch of conniving underage drunks," Wallace wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

GOP chair Steele staying put despite latest gaffe

Steele, once known as “Homie The Clown” back in the days when he earned an honest living, sure isn’t getting many laughs from his GOP playmates.

'Everyone is basically working around him,' says former Republican rep

The outspoken Steele has faced calls for his resignation from conservatives and some in the GOP after he said that the nine-year-old conflict in Afghanistan was a mistaken "war of Obama's choosing." So far, Steele has ignored demands for him to step down.

Latest pot legalization study ‘casts more smoke than light’

Looks like another inconclusive academic study regarding Marijuana legalization. I got this email from Dale this afternoon (at noon):

“Overall, this report casts more smoke than light on the issue , but that is in the nature of any academic study where so many basic facts remain in dispute. The most important lesson to be taken away is that the benefits of legalization depend strongly on how it is implemented.  Passing a  bill or initiative is therefore just the first step in a lengthy process requiring many additional, carefully considered policy decisions.”

      - Dale Gieringer Cal NORML


The current California proposals to legalize marijuana would go well beyond cannabis reforms in any other nation to date-even the Dutch cannabis coffee-shop system. California voters and legislators face considerable uncertainty because it is very difficult to estimate how much more marijuana will be consumed in the state or how the change will affect tax revenues, criminal-justice costs, and health-care costs. Nonetheless, we believe that bringing together relevant data in a systematic fashion and developing a model has provided some important insights:
* The pretax retail price of marijuana will substantially decline, likely by more than 80 per-
cent. The price consumers face will depend heavily on taxes, the structure of the regula-
tory regime, and how taxes and regulations are enforced.
* Consumption will increase, but it is unclear how much because we know neither the
shape of the demand curve nor the level of tax evasion (which reduces revenues and the
prices that consumers face).
* Tax revenues could be dramatically lower or higher than the $1.4 billion estimate; for
example, uncertainty about the federal response to California legalization can swing esti-
mates in either direction.
* Previous studies find that the annual cost of enforcing marijuana laws ranges from around
$200 million to nearly $1.9 billion; our estimates show that the costs are probably less
than $300 million.
* There is considerable uncertainty about the impact that legalizing marijuana in Califor-
nia would have on public budgets and consumption, with even minor changes in assump-
tions leading to major differences in outcomes.

* Much of the research used to inform this debate is based on insights from studies that
examine small changes in marijuana prices or the risk of being sanctioned for posses-
sion. The proposed legislation in California would create a large change in policy. As a result, it is uncertain how useful these studies are for making projections about marijuana
Legalization has many potential dimensions; thus, the term can mean many different
things (MacCoun and Reuter, 2001). An examination of the Dutch system, the Australian
and Alaskan home-cultivation allowances, and the far more-extensive international experiences with alcohol and tobacco regulation suggests that the devil is in the details. On many dimensions, neither the Ammiano bill nor the RCTC proposition is particularly good at the details. Indeed, many of the issues addressed in this paper are specific to the "details" of these two proposals, not to marijuana legalization in general.

photo source

Wacky Wednesday: People with pets that reflect their personalities


GO HERE TO SEE MORE. Beware…some are rather risque, but all are funny.

Europeans on nudity: Just grin and bare it

Image: Imitation statue of David

But uninhibited behavior can be a shock to American travelers

In the south of France, sunbathing grandmothers have no tan lines. In Norway, young children play naked in fountains. On summer days, accountants in Munich head to the park on their lunch break to grin and bare it, trading corporate suits for birthday suits.

It's quite a shock to Americans (they're the ones riding their bikes into the river and trees). In Belgium, huge billboards advertise soap by showing a woman's lathered-up breasts. A Copenhagen student tourist center welcomes visitors with a bowl of free condoms at their info desk.

Snakes alive! Those jeans may save your life!

If you’re a hiker planning to trek into rattlesnake-infested hills this summer, take a fashion cue from a pair of California reptile researchers:

 Make sure to wear jeans. Snake scientists at Loma Linda University have discovered that denim clothing significantly cuts the amount of venom injected by angry rattlesnakes, reducing the poison by up to 66 percent.

The researchers, William K. Hayes, a biology professor, and Shelton S. Herbert, a doctoral student, tested 17 small and large southern Pacific rattlesnakes, allowing them to strike liquid-filled latex kitchen gloves, some covered with denim fabric and some left bare. They reported their findings in a recent issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Here’s an interesting example of body painting with soul

Body painting with soul… err, I meant sole!

Temptu, a company which concentrates on airbrush makeup and cosmetic innovations, painted some smelly feet for the NY Magazine.

When New York Magazine needed to recreate the appearance of shoes on actual feet, using just makeup, they contacted Temptu. Body paint artists, John Maurad and Jenai Chin created the results you see below for the article titled “You Walk Wrong”. Their work includes a traditional wing tip for men, a pair of  Christian Louboutin heels, and an old-school Adidas Gazelle shoe. The Adidas one is so incredibly rendered on the bare foot, it’s hard to believe it’s not even real! The only problem with these, is that I can’t decide whether to choose the slip one, or Adidas one as my favorite.

Body Painted Shoes Illusion Body Painted Shoes Illusion

Photos and text source

Justice Dept. to sue over Arizona immigration law

The U.S. Justice Department is filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and state over the nation's toughest immigration crackdown.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Lawsuit questions constitutionality of controversial bill targeting illegal immigrants

Is it possible to be an all-American company?

California flashlight maker is close, but it's still a rough road

Anthony Maglica has lived the American Dream – arriving in booming post-war United States as a penniless young man, he made his way to California in a rusty Studebaker, worked hard and saved just enough money to start his own business. He parlayed the humble sum of $125 into a business empire.

Maglica’s company, Mag Instruments, has sold 420 million of its aluminum-encased flashlights since 1979. Its Maglite brand is known worldwide as a high-quality American product. But the company’s story illustrates just how difficult it is to be all-American. Not only does it face a flood of cheap imports, but Mag is in perpetual legal battle to protect itself from copycats

Monday, July 5, 2010

Volunteers needed to smoke cannabis regularly for science – one hitch – you have to live in the UK

Do you use cannabis regularly?
Does cannabis stimulate your creativity?
If so,
we are interested in hearing from you…

Pioneer Film and Television Productions are producing a new 3 part series about drugs for the BBC and are looking for people to take part in the series as contributors that we follow over a relevant period of time.
The use of recreational drugs is widespread and growing, this series is an honest and non judgmental look at drugs and the impact they have on the human body. Combining the testimony of cannabis users, medical experts and cutting edge CGI we will explain how drugs create the effects they do.

Please only contact if you are over 18 and based in the UK.
Please contact Matt or Lisa at
Or call: 01753 785 486

Tea partiers search Constitution for parts that support their beliefs

I’m reminded of those evangelist preachers who take parts of the Bible and quote it out of context to support their personal agendas. They try to take the high road by associating themselves with a mainstream religion, but in fact are just greedy people using the belief in a higher power to their advantage.  

Not much difference here. Read this article and note Tea Partiers reject certain parts of the Constitution because they’re only interested in the parts that fit into their narrow world view. Their just using the Constitution the way rogue religious leaders use the Bible.

Crazed preachers and Tea Partiers have a lot in common. How many examples can you think of? While you’re buried in deep thought, take a look at this story:  

'Tea party' goes back to school on Fourth of July

Tea Party activists across the nation tried to put the "independence" back in Independence Day this weekend with festivals and other gatherings focused on the Constitution — and how to use it for political gain.

No surprise corner: Companies find ways to bypass ban on earmarks

Congressional whores have pimps just like any other streetwalker. They’re called Lobbyists.

They're using nonprofits — some they've created — to funnel money now…

Just one day after leaders of the House of Representatives announced a ban on earmarks to profit-making companies, Victoria Kurtz, the vice president for marketing of a small Ohio defense contracting firm, hit on a creative way around it.

End game: Chess icon Fischer exhumed for DNA test

Image: Bobby Fischer

Back when I belonged to a chess club, Fischer was my idol. I studied his games for hours. I copied his strongest opening moves, and end game moves.

The guy had no personality and was kinda of a nut job, especially towards the end of his life. However, he established himself as one of the greatest Grandmasters of all time.

'Professional and dignified' procedure aims to establish paternity of girl, 9

Authorities in Iceland have exhumed the body of American chess champion Bobby Fischer to determine whether he is the father of a 9-year-old girl from the Philippines.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

As It Stands: The Pug Zone: An approach to politics and life


Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 07/04/2010 01:27:17 AM PDT

Wouldn't it be nice to see all our elected officials as loyal to us as pug dogs are to their owners? Pugs were bred to be cheerful and friendly companions. Pugs don't lie. They're great watchdogs and clowns.

The men and women we vote into office are supposed to be watchdogs we can trust to promote our interests. They're always supposed to tell us the truth. We like it when they're friendly and cheerful and sometimes that's enough to make us vote for them. However, we often end up with career politicians who are devoid of pug-like attributes, with one exception; being clowns.

Don't be alarmed if I'm not writing about one of the major disasters going on in our world. I know they're happening. You know where to go if you want to read, see, or hear about them. This week I've decided to defiantly write about all things pug.

You're now in the pug zone. Pull up a chair, sit back and relax while I tell you some interesting things about these wonderful canines.

Latin scholars thought a pug's head looked like a clenched fist, thus the word “pugnus,” and one possible origin of the name. The other is the marmoset “pug” monkeys kept as pets. The dogs looked somewhat like them. They're one of the oldest breeds of dogs, originating somewhere in Asia prior to 400 B.C.

My pug, Millie, can expect to live 12-15 years. She's 5 years old now and we take walks every day to help her keep her “girlish” figure. She's our second pug.

READ THE REST HEREPHOTO: Millie relaxing in my Laker room/Den.


Here’s a cool site called netvibes that picked up todays column. Look under Prince Google News on right.

From Colorado Springs we have this blog that picked up today’s piece on pugs (July 4th).

Another site called WoPular picked up the column Monday morning.

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...